Martha Marcy May Marlene A star-making turn from Elizabeth Olsen as a woman who escapes a creepy commune and tries to put the pieces of her life back together in the lakeside house of her sister and brother-in-law. Unnerving, in a beautiful, accomplished, haunting way. 2 hrs. R (violence, nudity, sex, drugs, adult themes) - S.R.
Moneyball Brad Pitt stars as Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane in this inside-baseball drama about thinking outside the box - as he's forced to build a new roster based on new and seemingly nutty paradigms. Jonah Hill is the upstart statistician who offers novel advice and nerdy fist pumps. With Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, and a script that sings. 2 hrs. 13 PG-13 (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Take Shelter Michael Shannon stars as a small-town family man who starts to experience unnerving dreams full of doom and foreboding. Is he going mad, or is he onto something? Jeff Nichols' film works on all sorts of levels, and works with power and grace. Jessica Chastain is the wife looking for a way into her tortured husband's soul. 2 hrs. R (profanity, violence, adult themes) - S.R.
Melancholia Lars von Trier's storm-tossed meditation on depression begins with a comically elaborate wedding reception and ends with a newly discovered planet on a collision course for Earth. Kirsten Dunst is simply remarkable, and the great, eccentric cast includes Charlotte Gainsbourg, Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt, Stellan Skarsgård, Alexander Skarsgård, and Kiefer Sutherland. 2 hrs. 15 R (profanity, sex, nudity, adult themes) - S.R.
Midnight in Paris A lark, a souffle, a delightful shaggy-dog story with Owen Wilson as its shaggy hero. What's he doing in a Woody Allen movie about a B-list screenwriter who time-travels from the present to the Jazz Age? Disarming the audience with his wistful joie de vivre, that's what. With Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, and Michael Sheen. 1 hr. 34 PG-13 (sexual references) - C.R.
The Greening of Whitney Brown ** Mildly pleasant and extremely preposterous tween fantasy in the Green Acres vein. In this reverse Cinderella, the heroine's wealthy father loses his job, precipitating the family's move from upscale digs back to the ancestral farm. With Sammi Hanratty, Aidan Quinn, and Brooke Shields. 1 hr. 27 PG (middle-school mean girls, brief profanity) - C.R.
J. Edgar **1/2 Clint Eastwood directs Leonardo DiCaprio in this surprising but arduous biopic of the iconic D.C. lawman. It's a love story, really, as Hoover and his second-in-command, Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer), carry on an unspoken romance down through the turbulent decades. Lots of aging makeup, not enough depth. 2 hrs. 17 R (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Jack and Jill * Adam Sandler stars as an otherwise happy executive and family man who dreads the annual holiday visit of his annoying twin sister (also played by Sandler). Katie Holmes and Al Pacino also star. 1 hr. 30 PG (mild vulgar profanity, comic violence, crude humor) - W.S.
Puss in Boots 3-D *** This animated prequel to Shrek looks at the events leading up to Puss' (voice of Antonio Banderas) meeting with the big green ogre. 1 hr. 30 PG (some adventure action and mild rude humor) - W.S.
Tower Heist **1/2 Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy lead a motley team of vengeful sad sacks, plotting to rob the Madoff-like fiend who made off with their retirement savings. Comedic breaking and entering ensues. 1 hr. 44 PG-13 (profanity, cartoon violence, adult themes) - S.R.
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas **1/2 Ordinarily one doesn't encounter this unlikely combination of low comedy, high ideals, and cheesy optical effects outside of a head shop. But this rude and rowdy stoner comedy simulates how those under the influence become helpless observers of the human comedy - much like the movie audience. 1 hr. 30 R (crude sexual and drug humor, pervasive profanity, extreme drug use, graphic nudity) - C.R.
Theater Reviewed by critics Wendy Rosenfield (W.R.), Jim Rutter (J.R.), Howard Shapiro (H.S.), and Toby Zinman (T.Z.). Billy Elliot The Musical
(Academy of Music) The national touring company of this stirring Elton John-scored account of a ballet-mad boy previews Wednesday, opens Thursday.
Gruesome Playground Injuries (Theater Exile) Rajiv Joseph's chronicle of the long friendship of a chronic self-injurer and his wounded healer. In previews, opens Wednesday.
Jacob and Jack (Montgomery Theater) A present-day TV personality and a '30s Yiddish theater actor become twisted doppergangers. Previews Thursday and Friday, opens Saturday.
The King and I (Walnut Street Theatre) One of Rodgers and Hammerstein's loveliest, with adorable kids, a winning ballet, and gorgeous tunes. In previews, opens Wednesday.
Treasure Island (People's Light and Theatre) Here we go again! It's panto season, and the crew is on board - pirates, lady in a dress - for fun. In previews Wednesday-Friday, opens Saturday.
Act a Lady (Azuka Theatre) It's a long time ago. It's the Midwest. The town gents decide to put on a show. In women's clothes. Through next Sunday.
Black Coffee (Hedgerow Theatre) Agatha Christie brews up a nice French press for Hercule Poirot in a pleasant, if formulaic, evening. Ends Sunday. - H.S.
Endgame (Annenberg Center) Gate Theatre of Dublin brings its eloquently delivered version of Samuel Beckett's play here on tour. Ends Sunday. - H.S.
Even Steven (Laugh Out Loud Theatre Company) Insightful, though uninspiring reversal of rom-com formula at the Walnut's Studio 5. Through next Sunday. - J.R.
The Fat Cat Killers (Flashpoint Theatre) Dumb and Dumber's adventures in corporate America; three excellent performances in a silly satire. Through Saturday. - T.Z.
The How and the Why (InterAct) Two female evolutionary biologists of different generations reveal as much about their present as their pasts, in robust performances by Janis Dardaris and Victoria Frings. Ends Sunday. - H.S.
Maroons (Iron Age Theatre) The true story of the Maroons, coal miners from Schuylkill County who formed a football team and won a 1925 national championship. Through Nov. 27.
Meanwhile . . . (Brat Productions) Playwright Madi Distefano stretches; the quick-change production has its ups and downs. Through Saturday.
The Merchant of Venice (Quintessence Theatre Group) Shakespeare's bitter comedy, in repertory with The Venetian Twins, comes across clearly in this energetic telling. Through next Sunday. - H.S.
Motherhood (Society Hill Playhouse) Mommy's got her own energetic musical revue, polished for maximum laughs. Lots of fun for moms and more. Extended through Dec. 31. - H.S.
The Mystery of Irma Vep (Act II Playhouse) Charles Ludlam's classic send-up of penny novels is all the more wacky and frantic when performers Dito van Reigersberg and Luigi Sottile make it explode. Through next Sunday. - H.S.
Pardon My Invasion (Plays and Players) This whacked-out world premiere about an AWOL soldier who hides out in a 13-year-old girl's body is thoroughly unpredictable and equally enjoyable. Through Saturday. - W.R.
Quidam (Temple's Liacouras Center) Cirque de Soleil returns with its luminous tale of a bored little girl who breaks free. Ends Sunday.
The Philly Fan (People's Light & Theatre) Tom McCarthy's perennial angry man, a longtime local favorite, must really be feeling the pain this year. Through next Sunday.
Our Class (Wilma Theater) An extraordinary play and production: ten Polish schoolmates - five Catholic, five Jewish - embroiled in the 1940s in invasion, war, betrayal, and worse, and their aftermaths. Ends Sunday. - H.S.
Red (Philadelphia Theatre Company) An engrossing play about the titan of 20th-century abstract expressionism Mark Rothko and big ideas about making and looking at art. Ends Sunday. - T.Z.
The Venetian Twins (Quintessence Theatre Group) Goldoni's comedy gets inspired direction and a sidesplitting production. Through Saturday. - J.R.
The Whipping Man (Arden Theatre) An often absorbing, well-acted play about a Confederate soldier who comes home to find no family and only two former slaves has its bumps along the way. Through Dec. 18. - H.S.
Video Like Crazy
*** Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones star in Drake Doremus' low-key romance of two lovers living parallel lives. 1 hr. 29 PG-13
(sexual content, brief strong language) - C.R.